Here comes Crossrail: hot homes along London's high-speed rail link

New-build homes are already going up along the high-speed rail link that will cut commuting times into London. In the first of a major seven-part series, we look at the homebuying opportunities along the 75-mile high-speed route.
As the capital’s biggest and most important transport upgrade since the expansion of the Tube network 100 years ago, Crossrail, the new west-east line, will change the lives of millions of Londoners and suburban commuters when it opens in 2018. Forward planning, to make a sensible property investment based on what is a momentous infrastructure change, is always a sensible strategy.

Already the £14.8 billion project has cemented itself into the consciousness of Londoners, not least because of the upheaval its construction is causing. Many are weighing up Crossrail’s likely impact and making plans about how they can benefit from it.


Crossrail route map: Reading to Whitechapel section


The 75-mile route from Reading in the west to Shenfield in Essex takes in 40 stations, including 10 new ones, and provides the first direct connection between all of London’s main employment centres and Heathrow airport. Up to 24 trains an hour will run during peak periods, carrying 200 million passengers a year and boosting London’s rail transport capacity by 10 per cent.

Slashed journey times are the great reward — 1.5 million more people will be placed within a 45-minute commute of the key business districts. Forward-thinking home buyers and savvy investors are beginning to focus on the neighbourhoods being thrown into the spotlight by the new route, and our Crossrail series over the coming weeks will help you to identify these areas of opportunity.

Adding to property values
Nothing boosts the value of homes more than a major transport upgrade, and Crossrail is already proving a huge catalyst for regeneration.

It is the first transport project in the UK to integrate comprehensively with other developments, helping to create new neighbourhoods and commercial zones — an awesome three million square feet of new office space, plus shops and homes built above and alongside the stations, along with greatly improved public spaces.

King’s Cross St Pancras has shown that redevelopment of a major railway terminus and surrounding land can have spectacular results. A once-grimy area, the King’s Cross of today has become a desirable address.

Crossrail route map: Stratford to Shenfield; and Canary Wharf to Abbey Wood


Crossrail hotspots have already emerged and, inevitably, the scheme will lift the veil on some areas while bringing others in from the cold. Abbey Wood, on Crossrail’s southern spur into Greenwich borough and currently a dreary, isolated south London outpost with some of the capital’s cheapest homes, is one example.

“Crossrail throws the area into a new demand bracket, as it morphs into a serious commuter zone,” says Johnny Morris, head of research at estate agents Hamptons International.

Since Crossrail was approved in 2008, the value of homes around the stations along its route has grown by 20 per cent more than underlying capital appreciation in London and the South-East, according to property consultant CBRE. The company predicts the Crossrail factor will add a further 13 per cent — or £60,000 — over and above wider growth by 2018. In central London, the overall increase will be closer to 20 per cent, typically adding £100,000 to the value of each property.

Analysis by Hamptons International suggests areas around outer suburban stations could see some of the greatest gains, especially along the western section of the route because of the more pronounced reduction in travel times. From Maidenhead, Taplow and Burnham, journey times to central London will be cut by up to 40 minutes.
Farringdon will have stations for commuters to board Crossrail, Thameslink and Tube stations

The key factor is the extent to which Crossrail improves a location’s current accessibility. Farringdon station in Clerkenwell is poised for huge growth, with a projected sevenfold increase in commuters. It will be the only London terminus with integrated north-south (of the river) and east-west routes; the only one allowing passengers to board Crossrail, Thameslink — also being upgraded — and Tube trains. It will provide direct links to Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and London City airports as well as to Eurostar services at St Pancras and Brighton on the south coast.

Getting in early
Crossrail “awareness” has kicked in at a much earlier stage than is customary with transport upgrades. Take the recent Overground improvements. Most people only woke up to the benefits once this new London orbital route was up and running. A property boom in better-connected areas such as Forest Hill, Sydenham and Peckham quickly followed.

Despite being four years off completion, Crossrail is already very much on people’s radar. One in 10 homes bought last year were within a mile of a Crossrail station, not least because the project is proving a massive stimulus for new homes, especially around the new central London stations and interchanges — Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel and Canary Wharf.

Early investors can expect to benefit over the longer term in the same way as purchasers who bought in Stratford after the Olympic Games were awarded to London in 2005. One issue for home seekers is that developers may be factoring in future price growth when selling homes now, either off-plan or ready to move into.
A new station for Abbey Wood, which now offers some of London's cheapest homes

Follow the money
Though owned by Transport for London, Crossrail is being partly funded by developers, who want their pound of flesh. At Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich, Berkeley Homes has contributed £30 million towards the £100 million Crossrail station, which was not part of the original masterplan for the site. Land values have been given a huge boost as local residents will be able to get to Canary Wharf in eight minutes, the City in 15 minutes and Heathrow in 47 minutes. And the local council is lobbying TfL to make Woolwich, currently in Zone 4, a Zone 3 station.

Once an armaments factory, the waterfront estate will have more than 5,000 homes. Berkeley has launched 394 flats in five towers above the Crossrail station. Prices from £345,000. Call 020 8331 7130.
Crossrail at canary Wharf will bring a direct link to Heathrow

Canary Wharf is tipped as another Crossrail winner. For the first time, it will have a direct link to Heathrow, while the new station will be one of the largest on the route, with six storeys of shops, plus restaurants and cafés and a landscaped park. About 10,000 new homes in Docklands are also in the pipeline.

Of course, the scale of Crossrail construction means disruption for residents, such as those in north Mayfair, affected by the complicated engineering works. Some people have had to be rehoused, properties in the way of the bulldozers have been compulsorily purchased, and hundreds of homes will need better sound insulation. For sellers in the affected areas, the Crossrail project is showing up on conveyancing searches and may make buyers hesitant.

In general though, Crossrail is seen as an enormous bonus for London, a vital piece of infrastructure that fosters civic pride for a city with a fast-growing population.

To help solidify Crossrail in the public mind, an arts programme called The Culture Line has been unveiled. This brings together renowned artists, architects and engineers to create exhibitions and permanent works at new stations, in the tradition of the  magnificent Moscow metro. The first commission is A Cloud Index by  Spencer Finch, to be embedded within a spectacular 400ft-long glass canopy above the concourse at Paddington station.

Next week: Reading to West Drayton

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